Thursday, 8 October 2015

Another birthday

Today is the 21st birthday of National Poetry Day. To mark the occasion, here is an item first posted on this blog on 6 June 2012:

Justice: Chicago and Lockerbie
[The greatest poem written in English about justice is, in my view, Carl Hamblin, from Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology.  It reads as follows:]

The press of the Spoon River Clarion was wrecked,
And I was tarred and feathered,
For publishing this on the day the Anarchists were hanged in Chicago:
“I saw a beautiful woman with bandaged eyes
Standing on the steps of a marble temple.
Great multitudes passed in front of her,
Lifting their faces to her imploringly.
In her left hand she held a sword.
She was brandishing the sword,
Sometimes striking a child, again a laborer,
Again a slinking woman, again a lunatic.
In her right hand she held a scale;
Into the scale pieces of gold were tossed
By those who dodged the strokes of the sword.
A man in a black gown read from a manuscript:
'She is no respecter of persons.'
Then a youth wearing a red cap
Leaped to her side and snatched away the bandage.
And lo, the lashes had been eaten away
From the oozy eye-lids;
The eye-balls were seared with a milky mucus;
The madness of a dying soul
Was written on her face—
But the multitude saw why she wore the bandage.”

[Perhaps, one day, the multitude (and the Scottish Government) will recognise the affront to justice that the conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi constitutes.

The three convicted anarchists that were not hanged in 1887 (four were) were pardoned, and the trial was criticised, by Illinois Governor John P Altgeld, who assumed office in 1893. Altgeld is the subject of Vachel Lindsay's powerful poem The eagle that is forgotten.]

1 comment:

  1. A fine work. Pity nothing ever seems to change.